Tie Stalls in Germany
We all know the advertising pictures with satisfied cows on sunny flower meadows. Light years away from this idyll is the reality of cows living their lives in tie stalls. That means: being tied at their neck, no freedom of movement, living in chains in the same place – at all times. In Germany, every fourth cow is tied up in a stable. But this husbandry system is common in other EU states as well.
What are the Animals Suffering From?
In 2010, about 27% of 'dairy' cows in Germany were still kept in tie stalls. That is over 1.3 million animals (source: Federal Statistical Office). Most tethered cows are kept in southern Germany. In 2017 in Bavaria, over 190,000 animals are kept tethered all year round – without any grazing. In other EU countries, too, e. g. Austria, Poland and Spain, this husbandry system is still widespread.
Tethered husbandry contradicts the basic needs of cows, all scientific findings on species-appropriate cattle husbandry, as well as the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. Nevertheless, Denmark is so far the only EU state that explicitly prohibits tethering by law from 2022. In the rest of the EU, the dairy and meat industries have so far successfully prevented an explicit ban.
What Animals' Angels Does Against it
Animals' Angels has been campaigning for ending tie stalls since 2009. With our project 'The Dignity of Cows', we started the long overdue debate on this subject throughout Germany in 2015.
- Still in 2015, all major veterinary associations joined our cause and publicly demanded a ban on tethering. In March 2015, the Scientific Advisory Board for Agricultural Policy also classified tethering as problematic and sees an urgent need for action.
- In April 2016, 14 out of 16 federal states voted in favour of a nationwide legal ban on this outdated form of rearing in the German Bundesrat. Its implementation has failed to date because of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
- Legally, we challenged tethering in 2017 with eight criminal charges against farmers.
- More and more dairies and supermarket chains are also considering not buying any more milk from tie stalls any more. This puts pressure on dairy farms.
- Numerous federal states are now offering support programmes for farmers to encourage the conversion of tie stalls into regular housing.
Our persistence stems from the injustice that is done to cattle when they have to live their lives in small, dark stables with a chain around their neck. This contradicts animal welfare as national objective. An abundance of expert opinions and large parts of the German veterinary profession support our concern.
We are convinced that tethering will soon be a thing of the past. Until then, we will stay with the animals.